Cast and Crew: William Wyler (Director); Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Stephen Boyd, Hugh Griffith
What It’s About: Jewish nobleman Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) is falsely convicted of an assassination attempt on a Roman officer and sentenced to the galleys. Escaping a slave’s death through his wits, honor, and athleticism, he seeks revenge on those who have wronged him while also trying to locate his lost family. He serendipitously crosses paths with Jesus Christ and finds his life forever changed. Based on Lew. Wallace’s 1880 book, one of the best-selling American novels of all time.
Why Watch it Today?: April 21, 753 B.C. is the traditional date of the founding of Rome, so why not celebrate with one of the most Academy-decorated films set in ancient Rome? Ben-Hur abounds in Roman pageantry, with thrilling naval battles and chariot races, generals in full regalia, exotic imperial locations and all the epic pomp that would inspire Monty Python’s classic parody Life of Brian. Ben-Hur might not be the most classical of Roman movies, because of the Christian themes, but on the day after Easter this is a good seasonal choice.
Other Ways to Mark the Founding of Rome: If you don’t feel like watching a movie, you could: stab Caesar; learn about Roman numerals; watch a play; sign up for a summer course in spoken Latin in Kentucky, Boston or Rome; or experience the craziness of the craziest of Roman emperors.
Cast and Crew: John Hughes (director), Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jeffrey Jones, Jennifer Grey, Charlie Sheen, Ben Stein
What It’s About: A high school student, Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), decides to take a much needed day off, creatively faking illness to his parents so they support his decision to stay home. Of course, it’s far too nice a day not to take advantage of the great city of Chicago. So, Ferris enlists his best friend, Cameron (Alan Ruck), who is legitimately sick, and perhaps more importantly, Cameron’s car. The next step is to pull Ferris’ girlfriend (Mia Sara) out of school and then it’s off to a day of adventure, including lunch at a fancy restaurant, an afternoon baseball game, and participation in a parade, as the stakes grow higher and higher that they might get caught. Their most ardent pursuer is Principal Edward Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), who suspects Ferris is faking his illness, but Ferris must also contend with his sister (Jennifer Grey) who’s envious of his popularity. In the end, everyone involved learns a little something about life and themselves.
Why Watch It Today?: It’s getting late in the school year, and one might be craving a day off. Wikipedia lists today as a popular choice for a senior skip day, and while it’s a Sunday, there’s no harm in planning ahead. Alternatively, the movie has some good suggestions for anyone already enjoying any kind of holiday time off or vacation.